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20 years of innovation in mental health nursing recognised

Twenty years of innovation in mental health nursing recognised

Capital & Coast District Health Board (CCDHB) celebrates two decades of pioneering graduate mental health nursing this March.

The Certificate of Entry to Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing Practice was the first of its kind in New Zealand when it commenced in February 1995 with 30 new graduates, and was established 10 years before any other new graduate nursing programme in the country.

“Since then more than 700 new graduates have completed this programme, and many of them are still working with us today,” says Toni Dal Din, director of nursing for the 3DHB Mental Health, Addictions, and Intellectual Disability service.

One of those people is Donna Bresaz, who currently works as an afterhours co-ordinator for CCDHB’s regional forensic mental health service.

“It was a good solid foundation for my career and I’ve had fantastic opportunities. I went on to complete a Masters in Nursing and postgraduate forensic psychiatry and I think that’s because I started doing that kind of thing from the beginning.”

Now known as the Nursing Entry to Specialist Practice (NESP) programme, it is the only recognised entry qualification for those working in the national Mental Health and Addictions sector, with 149 places funded each year across New Zealand.

This year CCDHB welcomed 24 new graduates into the programme. Lucie Irwin-Whitney, who completed the NESP programme last year, says finding her feet as a mental health nurse was challenging, but says “incredible support from CCDHB staff, Whitireia Polytechnic, and my colleagues made it so much easier”.

“No matter where my nursing career takes me in the future, I know that the experiences and training I had with NESP will follow me and continue to influence my practice.”

CCDHB is part of the sub-regional 3DHB Mental Health, Addictions & Intellectual Disability Service, which provides a variety of regional and national mental health services.


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